| Quote #4
[…] The spirit that I have seen
Throughout the play, the presence of the Ghost is associated with the possibility of Hamlet's insanity. Here, Hamlet is concerned that the Ghost may be "the devil" and is trying to tempt him to murder Claudius without just cause. What's interesting to us about this passage is the way Hamlet (who is alone on stage at this point) wonders if his melancholy state has left him vulnerable. As we know, many Elizabethans thought that those who suffered from melancholy were at risk for experiencing hallucinations (thought to have been caused by too much "black bile" in the body). This could leave them vulnerable to the devil's power and deception.
We see a similar idea at work earlier in the play, when Horatio (who is supposed to be an educated skeptic) warns Hamlet that the Ghost could "deprive [Hamlet of his] sovereignty and reason / And draw [him] into madness"(1.4.9).
| Quote #5
Polonius is convinced that Hamlet is "far gone, far gone" in his love for Ophelia. But, if we take a close look at the passage in which Hamlet calls Polonius a "fishmonger," it seems clear that Hamlet is mocking Polonius and merely playing the part of an "antic" (a madman but also a "grotesque" or "clown" figure). Polonius believes that Hamlet simply doesn't recognize him, but Hamlet is likely making a bawdy joke at Polonius's expense. A "fishmonger" is slang for "pimp," and Hamlet seems to be saying that he knows Polonius is using his daughter (like a pimp would use a prostitute) to spy on Hamlet and curry favor with King Claudius. Hamlet's crude suggestion becomes even more apparent in light of the fact that just a few lines earlier, Hamlet compared Ophelia to a "dead dog" that "breeds maggots" while rotting in the sun (2.2.5). When Polonius walks away, Hamlet calls him a "tedious old fool." These are just the kinds of things an "antic" would say and you can read more about this kind of "role" by going to "Art and Culture."
| Quote #6
HAMLET I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is
Hamlet admits to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that even though he's acting like a raving lunatic, he definitely has his wits about him. In other words, he knows they've been sent by Claudius to spy on him.